Jill Biden to travel to Ukraine border, spend Mother's Day meeting refugees

Brendan Smialowski
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WASHINGTON — First lady Jill Biden’s weekend trip to Eastern Europe will include a Mother’s Day trip to Slovakia’s border with Ukraine, the White House announced Thursday.

Sunday’s stop at a border crossing in Vyšné Nemecké, Slovakia, will be the latest by a prominent U.S. government official to the front lines of the Russia-Ukraine war. There, Biden will survey a checkpoint where Ukrainian refugees get basic assistance from humanitarian and Slovakian government workers before they travel farther west to processing centers and transit hubs, the White House said.

At the stop, which will include a visit to a small Greek Catholic chapel, Biden is expected to learn about the experiences of aid workers and refugees and convey the Biden administration’s gratitude for the work being done there, the White House said.

Biden on Sunday will also visit a refugee center and school in the larger city of Košice, about 55 miles from the border, where she will participate in Mother’s Day activities with Slovaks and Ukrainian refugees.

The four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia is Biden’s second solo international trip. She represented the Biden administration at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo last year.

The planned visit near an active war zone comes after a pair of trips into Ukraine by high-level U.S. officials that were revealed only after they arrived — first Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on April 24 and then just last weekend a congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The announced stops will showcase Biden’s professional role as an educator and her focus during her time as both second and first lady, supporting veterans and military families.

She is to land Friday at Mihail Kogălniceanu Airbase near the Black Sea in Romania, where she will visit with — and serve dinner to — U.S. service members who are part of rotational deployments in support of Romania, a NATO ally.

On Saturday, Biden will be briefed on U.S.-led humanitarian efforts in Romania at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest and meet with Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis, who, like Biden, has continued to work as an English teacher since she became a presidential spouse. She will also visit a public school in the capital city that has been hosting Ukrainian refugee students.

Biden's trip ends Monday in Bratislava, where she is to meet with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová, the first woman to hold the office.

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